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Oliver Dibbs to the Rescue!
By Barbara Steiner
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1985 Barbara Steiner
All rights reserved.
Save the Tiger
Oliver Dibbs was busy painting stripes on his dog, Dolby, so he'd look like a tiger. It was his latest project, and he was pleased with Dolby's appearance. He'd bought some of that paint they sell mainly at Halloween to spray in your hair. It was guaranteed to be nontoxic and washable.
Dolby, a Labrador and Great Dane mix, was black to start with, so Ollie had only to spray on orange and white stripes. While Dolby was a bit thinner than a tiger and not quite as graceful, Ollie thought he was beautiful.
"Hold still, Dolby. Just a few more," said Ollie, reassuring the big dog.
Bo, Ollie's little brother, held the pattern, a cardboard rectangle with a stripe cut out of the middle, while Ollie sprayed. At first the hiss of the aerosol can had made Dolby nervous, but now he was used to it. And although he felt a bit embarrassed by his new look, he was glad for the attention the boys were giving him.
When they had finished painting Dolby, Ollie said, "Bo, you watch Dolby. If you don't he will roll in the dirt before the paint dries. I'll finish this sign."
The sign, made billboard style to fit Dolby, read:
SAVE THE TIGER.
ONLY 5,000 ANIMALS LEFT.
PUT A TIGER BACK INTO THE JUNGLE.
Ollie had wanted to write SUCCESS GUARANTEED, because reintroducing tigers into the wild had been very successful. But he couldn't remember how to spell guaranteed, and he didn't want to take the time to go look it up. They needed to be in the mall by noon, while it was still crowded with Saturday shoppers.
"Should we try to get Dolby to roar?" asked Bo.
"No, he'd scare people off. We'd better have a friendly tiger. We want him to look like a tiger, not act like one."
Ollie pinned a sheet of notebook paper to the back of Bo's shirt and had Bo pin one on his shirt. Both signs read, DON'T MISS YOUR CHANCE TO SAVE THE TIGER.
Leaving Bo and Dolby in the garage, Ollie slipped into the kitchen to smear peanut butter on bread for two sandwiches. He added an apple apiece to the sack. Then for good measure he grabbed two small boxes of raisins. They might be gone all afternoon if they had good luck, and he didn't want to be tempted to spend any money on snacks.
"We'll be back in a few minutes, Alice," Ollie called to his sister. He didn't think she heard him since she was talking on the phone and playing a record very loudly. But he had covered his leaving. He could say, "I told Alice we were going," if he needed to later. His mom and dad were shopping themselves, and Alice was supposed to be watching him and Bo.
Even though Ollie was ten, going on eleven, his parents wouldn't leave him at home alone. On weekdays his mom worked until five. Alice had to come home after school every day to watch them. Neither Alice nor Ollie liked the arrangement, but Ollie figured it was better than a real sitter. As it turned out, Ollie usually watched himself and Bo, since Alice had other interests. But she was there for emergencies.
It was at least two miles to the Crossroads Mall, but Ollie and Bo had walked it many times, sometimes with Alice, who liked to shop there or just look around. The mall had big department stores and wonderful little shops that were fun for kids and grown-ups alike. The best movie theater in town was there. Today they'd eat their lunches while they walked. Even if they wanted to spend the money, Dolby couldn't go on the bus.
It was a beautiful Indian-summer day. Ollie and Bo chewed the gummy sandwiches, giving Dolby the top crusts. They bit into the crisp apples, checking out the progress of fall as they walked past Ollie's shut-down refreshment stand and up the bike trail behind their house. Lots of leaves were as orange as Dolby's stripes. All the weeds in the empty field behind their house had turned yellow. Some pink petunias in Mrs. Martindale's backyard had escaped the early frost. Passing them, Ollie decided he would earn money mowing lawns next year. He had tried this past summer, but no one thought he was old enough to run a power mower, and old-fashioned push mowers were things of the past.
The bike trail swung to the right. Dolby wanted to stop and bark at Frank Ashburn's collie, but Ollie held tightly to his leash. "Some other time, Dolby. We have more important things to do."
This was Ollie's first time collecting in the mall for one of his causes. Usually he collected at school or from his parents and neighbors. He also donated part of the proceeds from his cider and popcorn stand to various nature groups.
He was proud of the three certificates of commendation pinned to his bulletin board. One came from Greenpeace after a successful whale-fund collection. Two were from World Wildlife.
SAVE THE TIGER money was going to World Wildlife, but Ollie hadn't been able to collect enough so far to satisfy himself. And at his age he found it hard to earn money. So he'd thought up today's project. Ollie figured adults would think he, Bo, and Dolby were cute, and donate. That was definitely the response he and Bo had received when they wore wolf masks and collected aluminum cans. The money they had gathered that time would help protest hunting the small wolf population left in Minnesota.
With the crew cut he had insisted on getting at the barbershop and his thick, wire-rimmed glasses, Ollie knew he wasn't cute. But adults thought his business ventures were clever. He guessed they often looked at kids' ideas and not at kids. Bo, on the other hand, had curly blond hair and big brown eyes. He really was cute. All he had to do was look at people and they got out their money.
"You sure we can't have any ice cream, Ollie?" Bo asked as they passed the Häagen-Dazs in the shopping center on the corner of Iris Avenue and Twenty-eighth Street.
"You know we can't, Bo. We need all the money we can get for the tigers."
"I sure hope they appreciate it." Bo kept looking back at the ice-cream store.
"They will. Come on, take my hand." Ollie got a firm grip on Bo and Dolby as they crossed the busy intersection, first south, then east, to get to the C-Mart lot. He had decided to walk down Thirtieth Street because there was a sidewalk all the way, and it was the safest route for pedestrians. The Boulder newspaper had recently printed lots of articles about making the city safe for people on foot. Since he was often on foot, Ollie had thought of some good ideas himself. But he had been too busy with animal causes to take up people causes.
Last year he had gone on two bike rallies to call attention to the city of Boulder's need for bike trails. He knew bikers appreciated the time he'd put in because the mayor and the city council had voted for two new trails. Tigers couldn't express their appreciation for Ollie's help as bikers or pedestrians could, but on this campaign Ollie would know he was saving tiger lives.
"Let's stop and watch the prairie dogs." Bo tugged Ollie toward the prairie-dog village beside C-Mart. The Dibbses lived on the northern edge of Boulder. Now the city was catching up with them. A year ago this corner had been one big, empty field—one big prairie-dog town. Now C-Mart took up one-fourth of the lot. But the prairie dogs had moved to make room for the store and its parking lot.
"We don't have time, Bo," Ollie said. "If we don't hurry, all the shoppers will have gone home."
Dolby barked and tugged at Ollie's right arm. A prairie dog yipped so loudly he knocked himself over backward. Bo laughed. "Dolby scared him, didn't he?"
Ollie would have liked to stop to watch the funny animals too. But he had a lot of discipline. There were times when a person had more important things to do than play.
The mall was crowded as Ollie knew it would be. He'd seen that the paper was full of fall sales. For a time everything went as planned.
"Look at the tiger," children told their parents.
"Aren't they clever?" Mothers dug into their purses.
"Here, boys." Fathers dropped change from their pockets into the cans the boys held. "I'll buy a tiger."
Ollie loved the clanking sound of the coins piling up. He figured they might get as much as twenty dollars.
By three o'clock crowds had thinned. Fathers wanted to watch the end of the football game. Mothers who weren't watching football just wanted to have a cup of tea and put their feet up. Children wanted to catch the playtime left in the day.
Ollie figured they'd done the best they could. He was ready to leave. But just as he was deciding which stairway was closer to home, Lester Philpott, his older brother, Bert, and a group of junior-high-school boys with nothing to do sauntered by.
Lester was in Ollie's fifth-grade class, and, for some reason, he took it as his mission in life to make Ollie's life miserable. Ollie didn't think he'd ever done anything to make Lester pick on him. But once Lester had gotten the idea, he held onto it like Dolby worrying about a bone.
"Look at the vicious tiger," hollered Lester.
Dolby was tired by then and lay on his stomach, chin on paws. He looked more exhausted than dangerous.
"Yeah, watch out, Lester," warned Hank Huddleston, Bert's best friend.
"That poor dog," Bert said. "Cruelty to animals should not go unpunished."
Ollie smelled trouble, but he didn't know what to do. He caught Bo's hand. Then he reached for Dolby's leash, but he was too late.CHAPTER 2
"Let's wash the poor doggy," Bert said.
"Good idea." Lester grabbed Dolby's leash.
The boys clicked their fingers in front of Dolby and ran with him down the mall. They headed toward the fountain that bubbled and splashed full time.
Dolby, who was a good dog and patient with Ollie and Bo, needed some exercise. After all, he had sat posing for hours, looking tigerish. He barked and leaped and scampered with his new friends.
Then, being half-Lab, he loved water. He was only too glad to get into the fountain. First he lapped up water because he'd gotten thirsty on the job. Then he barked and rolled in the cool spray. The boys flipped water at him and laughed and yelled, ignoring the sign that read, STAY OUT OF THE FOUNTAIN.
After them ran Ollie and Bo, coins clanking in their donation cans. Ollie stopped and put his and Bo's cans in their leftover lunch sack. He didn't think Lester or his brother would actually steal, but he knew that when junior-high-school boys got in a crowd, they sometimes did things they wouldn't do alone. And they didn't need the tiger money stolen on top of the trouble they already had.
"Come here, Dolby. Come here," Ollie called.
"Yeah, come here, Dolby. Your stripes are disappearing." Bo reached out to the dog, but he was too far away to touch unless Bo got in the fountain too.
Lester laughed and kept calling to Dolby, who looked back and forth from Lester to Ollie to Bo, but avoided all of them. Finally Bert and his friends got tired of the fun and ran off. Lester hurried to follow them. That left Ollie and Bo to persuade Dolby to get out of the water.
But Dolby, glad to be loose, wasn't ready for Ollie to catch him yet. Stripes sliding off his fur, his billboard wet and soggy, he crouched in the shallow water. When Ollie got near, he bounced out of the fountain. He streaked down the mall, bounding and barking, living up to his name.
When Ollie had said he'd name the new puppy Dolby, Mr. Dibbs had told him "Dolby" was the name of a sound system. Ollie had figured the yipping puppy was just that. He had cried and whined and barked for three days and nights before he'd gotten used to this new home away from his mother.
Near one end of the shopping center was a pet store, and, of course, Dolby noticed it. Kittens crowded the window, hoping for owners. They mewed and tumbled and played on a kitty Junglegym.
Dolby swerved from his headlong dash, skidded to a stop, and shook off orange and white splatters of water. Then he stood with his feet on the window ledge. He barked his loudest.
The pet-store man hurried to the doorway and shouted at Dolby. But Dolby was having too much fun to care. A crowd gathered. Ollie and Bo had to push through to get to the noisy dog.
"Dolby, hush. You bad dog." Ollie grabbed Dolby's leash and then his collar.
"Yeah, hush," Bo echoed. "Tigers don't bark."
Trying to tug Dolby away from the kitten window, Ollie turned to face dark blue pants and shiny black shoes. Slowly he looked up to see a policeman staring at him and Dolby. Ollie tried to stay calm. Quickly he thought of something to say.
"Thanks, Officer. I have him now. He won't cause any more trouble." He was so used to not tattling that he didn't even think to mention Lester and the big boys who had started all their problems.
The policeman took in the situation and then read the streaked signs on Dolby as well as those on Bo and Ollie.
"That's fine, I'm sure. But do you have a permit for soliciting in the mall?"
Soliciting? What was that? Ollie thought fast.
"We didn't do it," said Bo. "Whatever it is."
"Collecting money." The policeman explained, "You need a permit to collect money in the mall."
Ollie hadn't thought of that. He didn't think he needed a permit to collect in his neighborhood. But now, guessing that the neighbors were tired of him, he'd branched out to the mall. Usually, he felt much older than his ten years. Now he felt little and scared. Maybe Lester hadn't set out to cause so much trouble, but Ollie figured he'd be pleased to see the spot he'd gotten Ollie and Bo and Dolby into. Ollie didn't see any way out. He'd fall back on being a little kid.
"I didn't know that," he said quietly, his eyes on his shoes.
"Are you going to arrest us?" Big tears started down Bo's cheeks. Ollie figured he was too big to cry, but he was glad Bo wasn't.
"No, but I think you'd better come with me until we get this straightened out." The officer's brown eyes were sparkling, but Ollie couldn't tell by looking at him how serious this was. Surely the policeman wasn't just teasing them.
Ollie, Bo, and Dolby climbed into the police car. Ollie held on tightly to the armrest on the door and sat as close as possible to the window. He'd never been in a police car before. He knew he couldn't escape, but this might be his last look at Boulder before he went to jail.
Dolby wasn't scared. He thought it was great. He tried to squeeze into Ollie's lap by the window. When Ollie rolled the window down a little, Dolby put his nose out to smell all the good smells as the car whizzed down Canyon Street to the police station. His head was still tiger-striped. His coat was a soggy mess. But he didn't feel like he was in trouble. Riding in a car was always a treat.
"Have some desperate criminals there?" the desk sergeant asked when they went inside.
"Better lock 'em up," an older policeman said sternly.
Dolby wagged his tail at the desk sergeant, the other policeman, and the dispatcher as they all trooped in. Ollie excused Dolby's behavior. He knew a dog wouldn't understand how much trouble they were in.
"Do I get one phone call?" Ollie had heard that on television. People who were arrested got one phone call. It was on a program he had watched one day before Alice got home from school.
Officer Byfield, who had brought them in, laughed. "Sure, Oliver. As long as it's to your parents and not your lawyer."
Ollie still wasn't sure what was going to happen. Officer Byfield hadn't thought their mall adventure cute, but he seemed friendly now. Maybe getting two desperate criminals safely to the police station had relaxed him. And now that he had laughed at Ollie, Ollie relaxed a little too. Of course, he couldn't relax entirely. He knew his father was going to be really mad at him.
Fortunately, his mother and father were home. They were also worried.
"Ollie. Where are you? Is Bo with you? Alice had no idea where you'd gone off to. Come home this minute," Mr. Dibbs said.
Ollie wanted to go home—right away—without telling his dad where he was. But he knew he couldn't. He took a deep breath.
"I can't, Dad. Maybe you'd better come here. We're in jail."
Excerpted from Oliver Dibbs to the Rescue! by Barbara Steiner. Copyright © 1985 Barbara Steiner. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Contents1. Save the Tiger,
2. More Trouble,
3. Expanding Horizons: The Alaskan Wilderness,
4. Think Before You Act,
5. The Radio Announcement,
6. The Halloween Caper,
7. Goldilocks and the Three Bears,
8. Bo, the Fur Seal,
9. Oliver Whale,
10. Prairie-Dog Rights,
11. In the Way of Progress,
12. The Remembering Service,
13. The Prairie-Dog Boy,
About the Author,